ʽʽHi, I’m Benjamin Nunn – critic, gourmand and author of Ben Viveur. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You might have read me in an in-flight magazine, or a beer publication, but here on my own blog I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others so anything goes.

I deal with real food and drink in the real world, aiming to create recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. Likewise, I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended.

Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Trailer Park Foie Gras

‘Lean finely textured beef’ aka ‘Pink slime’ – the highly-processed beef that finds its way into American fast food to keep the cost down – has now received such negative PR that it’s become a no-go area in much of the US food industry. 

It looks like another battle won by Mr. Oliver, and for those of us that prefer our food tasty and natural, that can only be a good thing.

Yes, he can be a bit of a twat at times, and his girthy tongue sometimes runs away with itself, but on these sorts of issues I’m largely in agreement with him.

But even prior to the Oliverian backlash, it was still easier a hell of a lot easier to find a really good quality burger in the US than it is in this country, which rather begs the question of what goes into some of the manky burgers we get over here?!? Possibly something just as slimy and pink that hasn’t yet been tarred with such an unappealing name?

As a Libertarian I wouldn’t want to ban ‘food’ like this altogether, and because so many people will be boycotting Pink Slime it might develop a mystique and become the foie gras of the poor.

Sick and wrong

One of the most disgusting things I’ve ever eaten – and it was only a tiny smidge, which was all I could bear – was some ‘Potted Meat Food Product’. You find it occasionally in small tins in gas station minimarts, particularly in the Mid-West and South.

The product that has to tell people that it's food...
I took a can back to share with my then-colleagues and most refused to try it outright. Some couldn't stand to be in the office kitchen when we opened it - such was the unpleasant aroma. The only person who ate an entire crackersworth is now the Labour PPC for Ipswich and might possibly end up as some kind of junior food minister in a future government!

Generally I find tinned food hard to stomach anyway, but this lurid, salty sludge was particularly grotesque. I reckon it probably had some Pink Slime in it, in addition to the mechanically separated chicken, partially defatted cooked pork fatty tissue, beef hearts and tripe.

I just can’t work out why people – even very poor people – eat these things. It’s like the (largely apocryphal) stories about students eating dog and cat food, which make no sense as they could buy value baked beans and pappy sliced loaves for a lot less. Do they need meat that badly?

And, incidentally, prior to the 1970s Pink Sludge was considered only suitable for use in pet food products!

Surely even vegetarianism is preferable to these sorry excuses for ‘meat’?!?


  1. I don't eat meat, I think the pink slime is awful. I do however think that if you are going to kill an animal why not use all of the animal. Jamie himself makes deserts using animal bones, I am sure he has cooked offal, let's face it prior to his USA tirade against breakfast pizza he himself created a recipe for the exact same thing even with the same catchy title! (sorry just had to have a pop at jamie) . Gravy is made utilising fat from meat, the marrow from bones but then again I guess it's ok to do it in your own kitchen but frowned upon when big machines grind up all the bits you have probably already eaten anyway ! Maybe it's because it's hidden, right? You can go to a top restaurant and order special cuts of meat that are not usually consumed and it's ethically marketed as a delicacy because it's using the whole animal and it's specially cooked to extract as much money from your wallet as is possible, yet tip the same cut of meat in a blender charge 20p for it and stuff it in a sasauge and bam it's really really crap! I am all for organically farm reared cuts of meat that are ethical but as someone who sits in the sidelines and watches those who consume meat products, it's the Hipocracy that gets me.

  2. Interesting point - I guess it's the combination of mechanical/chemical processing to extract the stuff and the dressing it up as something else that puts me off.

    I'm in total agreement about using all of the animal, and have no problem with offal or using bones to make stock/soup. I think there is a difference between deliberately preparing cuts of meat because you want to and arbitrarily chucking in random bits just to bulk things up and using tons of chemicals to disguise it though.


Comments are always welcomed and encouraged, especially interesting, thought-provoking contributions and outrageous suggestions.